Australia’s largest bank becomes the latest bank to offer crypto-related services

  • Following heightened customer demand, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has announced its venture into crypto asset services.
  • The bank has partnered with the regulated crypto exchange Gemini and the leading blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis for crypto service provision.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) is making history as the nation’s first bank to venture into cryptocurrency services. The multinational bank will now offer crypto asset buying, selling, and holding as direct services through its CommBank app.

As service support, the bank has partnered with Gemini, one of the largest regulated crypto exchanges and custodians. The majority of Gemini is owned by American popular investors the Winklevoss twins. Another strategic partner is Chainalysis, a leading blockchain data analysis firm. These collaborations will enable CBA to design a crypto exchange and custody service as new features on the bank’s app.

According to CBA, the pilot phase will kick off in the coming weeks. Additional features such as crypto investing and shopping will be incorporated next year. The new venture will give the institution’s customers access up to ten select crypto assets. Among them are Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and Litecoin (LTC).

CBA and the crypto industry

The new service is being implemented following customer demand for access to digital assets as an investment class. The bank notes that a large number of its customers had already begun trading and holding cryptocurrencies through various crypto exchanges. CBA CEO Matt Comyn stated;

The emergence and growing demand for digital currencies from customers creates both challenges and opportunities for the financial services sector, which has seen a significant number of new players and business models innovating in this area,

Importantly, the CBA chose Gemini as a partner due to its “institutional-grade security,” and “track record of serving large institutions.” The exchange also has a “proactive regulatory approach,” a convenient characteristic seeing as the institution takes pride in being regulatory compliant. Chainalysis comes in handy in monitoring and mitigating criminal acts perpetrated using crypto-asset exchanges. Comyn added;

Customers have expressed concern regarding some of the crypto services in market today, including the friction of using third party exchanges, the risk of fraud, and the lack of trust in some new providers. This is why we see this as an opportunity to bring a trusted and secure experience for our customers,” 

CBA has now joined other financial leaders such as JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and Bank of New York Mellon in the quest for digital asset exposure.

As CNF reported last week, US officials are developing a roadmap for banks to compliantly and securely engage with cryptocurrencies. These include executives from the Fed, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The biggest challenge so far has been deciding how volatile crypto assets fit into the bank’s balance sheets. Eventually, their guidelines (once developed) will apply to all banks located in the US, including multinationals such as the CBA, and those that have set up shop in the region.

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